Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To Hell in a ...

I have been meaning to write more here, but I haven't. There are thoughts bouncing around in my head that need to be written, but they aren't. You know the saying about good intentions and pavement. No, wait...the road and good intentions...Damn! How does the saying go?

Forget it.

Among the things I wanted to write about:
  • Details about our trip to San Jose
  • Our funky hotel in San Francisco
  • Some random thoughts about the San Francisco Bay
  • My tasty smashed potatoes recipe
  • An account of the fun New York City exploration we finally got to do
  • And some other things that have hidden in the depths of my mind just now when I wanted to list them
But the following things seem to have gotten in the way:
  • One of our dogs seems to have bowel problems - very unpleasant in many ways
  • Tons of grading
  • A presentation at a Latino immigration conference at the college (I am debating whether I want to put the text or portions up here)
  • Accounting (travel reports and receipt chaos)
  • Student crisis #1: brother died from skin cancer. Moral-wear sunscreen.
  • Student crisis #2: father died in tragic car accident. Moral-wear seatbelts.
  • Student crisis #3: got pregnant, freaked out, got an abortion, and is estranged from family (not necessarily in that order). Moral-use protection.
  • Ordering books for next semester
  • Submitting paperwork for courses I want to teach in the fall (you gotta love bureaucracy)
  • Lack of energy
I am so looking forward to the end of the semester.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Things that Amaze Me:
  • I am living in New York and I have not had good pizza (not for a lack of trying)
  • Ditto Chinese
  • Ditto bagels
  • Inwood is a pleasant place to live but has a dearth of good eateries
  • It has been four years since I was last in Italy
  • Anytime I hear music written by Johan Sebastian Bach
  • Ditto Beethoven
  • The power and beauty of nature
  • My sister is 30 – she will always be kind of a kid in my mind (maybe this is because she has a kindred spirit or maybe it is that she is the shorty of the family). Nonetheless, I do recognize that she is a strong, intelligent, and fun woman.
  • We have had Zeus for seven and a half years
  • Airplanes
  • Most of the first-year students I am teaching were born in 1988 – the year I was deciding where to go to college, got my drivers license, and finalizing my adolescent existential crisis.
  • Sara
  • My iPod has the same amount of memory as my computer
  • One of the most popular video games is about being a vandal and criminal
  • Zephyr’s metabolism: she can eat and eat then lounge and sleep all day, yet she remains thin as a pin.
  • Water. Not water as to drink, although I do appreciate a good, crisp, cold glass of water, especially when it’s hot or I am really thirsty, rather water in the landscape. Be it a river, lake, the ocean, or even a pond, I find a certain spiritual tranquility when I stand in the presence of a body of water. Some of my favorites: Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, Reykjavik, Capri and the Amalfi Coast, Catalina Island, Tulum, Lago di Como, the west coast of Sweden, Acadia National Park, and Cinque Terre
  • I am very close to being in my LATE thirties
  • Pre-colonial Mesoamerican architecture
  • How much our dogs shed
  • The capacity of humans to both love and hate (and how often they can not distinguish the two)
  • The ignorance of many of my students when it comes to geography and their apathy on the matter
  • The internet
There are myriad more, but I will save them for later.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Just back

And I appropriately did well on the exit exam (thanks Kelly).

You're totally like 78% California!

Ahhh... a true California Aficionado! That's just like a California Avocado but not as green. Come on over and we'll make some guacamole and chips and watch a CHP chase on the news.

How California are You?

More on the trip in a bit.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Tomorrow we leave for San Jose.

Today was pretty brutal trying to get everything done before we leave. And wouldn't you know it, the world refused to cooperate. For example, the dry-cleaners did not have our order in. Not only that, the attitude-laden girl/woman was so extremely rude about it. Time to find a different dry-cleaner.

Tomorrow is not going to be much better. Up at 5 am (I need to get into work early to take care of somethings in the office before 8 am class), avoid bears in the parking lot (probably upset that they could not find the frat party), two classes, drive home, try to get the dry-cleaning, pack, pick-up Sara, take the dogs to the "doggy hotel", park in the remote Newark lot, find our way to the airport, catch the 7:15 flight to San Francisco, find the stupid shuttle, ride for an hour with stinky strangers, and then collapse. Lots of opportunities for the world not to cooperate there. Let's hope for the best.

I kinda, sorta, almost finished my paper. It is not good, which is disappointing because it has potential. I keep telling myself that I will come back to it. It is hard, though, because you have to face the new things life continues to throw at you.

I am not sure how much I will engage these meetings. I feel so burnt out that I might just stand by the wayside. On the other hand I have this nagging voice (don't you hate those) telling me that I need to be more active in the field. I will see how I feel once I get there.

I am looking forward to seeing my sister. It has been a while since I last saw her.

One saving grace about all of this is that next week I don't have to teach. There is a giant pile of things that have been pushed off until then waiting for me, but for now I am just pretending that said pile is not there.

By the way, does anyone know what there is in San Jose other than the Winchester Mystery House and a bunch of computer geeks?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lions, Tigers, and ... (well, you know)

I am not sure if this qualifies me for hazard-pay...
A message from the Security Department:

Please be advised that two black bears were observed in the vicinity of the Mansion on campus on Tuesday, November 7, 2006
at approximately 3:30 a.m.

The bears are in search of food and do not usually approach human beings in a menacing manner.

Nevertheless, if you do see a bear, use extreme caution, and do not move toward it. Rather, follow the instructions below and
contact Security at Ext. 6666 immediately.

1. Make lots of noise so that the bear is aware of your presence. An automobile horn is extremely effective.

2. Make sure the bear has an escape route.

3. Stay at least 100 feet away from the bear.

4. Slowly back away if you are too close to the bear.

For further information about living in the vicinity of black bears and
your safety, type the following web address into your browser:

Grounhogs, squirrels, chipmunks, even deer (I saw some the other day), I can deal with. An encounter with a bear as I make my way to class at 7:30 am, maybe not.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


There is this pesky paper I need to write and it is hanging over my head like a piñata (credit for that silly pun goes to my sister). It should already be in the hands of the discussant who is to comment on it at the anthropology meetings next week in San Jose (the one in California).

As you may have guessed, it is not done. I am supposed to be working on it today. But here I am.

So things went well, for once. It is a step in the right direction, but there are so many things that need to be done. Moreover, just because the Democrats are slightly better than Republicans that doen't mean that we are now all saved. There were disappointments. I was following the race in NM-1 closely which the Republican incumbent eked out. The Senate race in TN showed that racist tactics still work. Speaking of race, I received a poll which had questions about race in politics such as would you vote for a multi-racial or African American candidate? How warm or cold do you feel towards illegal immigrants, welfare recipients, Hispanics, etc.? Good god! I digress...

I was curious to see what voting would be like in The Big City. The polling place was fairly similar to other places I have voted - I went around 2 pm and it was pretty quiet. The voting equipment was MUCH different. They still have the ancient lever machines here in NY. It was my first experience with one of these.

Unlike the shaky corregated plastic "stands" I punched my ballots in California or that I filled in bubbles in Massachusetts and Washington, the machines were large behemoths that stood behind a dense curtain that seemingly was designed to double as a fallout shelter. My pulling of the lever for each of my choices was answered by a lound clank from within the bowels of the machine.

Once I was done with my choices, I had to pull the giant lever at the bottom of the machine. It felt like I was switching the tracks at Railroad station as I moved the lever from right to left. With the giant final clank, I was done.

For once, I was on the winning side of things. The outcome was not close in any of the races, so my vote was not all that crucial. At least I was part of the process.

Celebrity City:
Once again our neighborhood (more specifically the block around our building) is the locale for the filming of a television episode. It is still Law and Order, but this time it is the Special Victims Unit spin-off. While the first time was a novelty, this time it is more of an annoyance. They are definitely taking up more street space than the last time and they have marked off the space where I usually park as no-parking for all of today and tonight. Since I got home last night from class at around 10:30, I could not be bothered to hunt for an alternative space. I just parked the car in a nearby garage.

The kicker is that I don't even really like the spinoff and there isn't a chance of me running into Jesse Martin again.

Ok...time to work on the stupid paper or prepare for class tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Preaching to the Choir

Need I say more?

Still not voting? I did not want to resort to this but...

Ok, you called my bluff. I could never hurt a dog. But you should still go vote.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nope, not combobuluted yet.

Not even close.

Thanks, Beav', for the definitions. It helps to know more or less what you are aiming for.

Sara has been really sick for the past five days. It is a nasty cold or maybe strep. I haven't been feeling too good myself, but next to her I have no right to complain. I am not sure if I am fighting off whatever got her or something else. It has been hard to focus, get motivated, and be productive.

This is not good because I am supposed to have a paper written for a confernce next week. I have ideas that pop up in my head, but nothing concrete. And somewhere between the idea popping up and the effort it takes to get to my desk to start working on the paper, it disappears. So I sit, exhausted from the effort, and end up doing nothing.

I should know by now, after countless years of college and graduate school, I am not going to wake up and find the paper written. So I am not sure what I am waiting for.

Perhaps a break in the time-space continuum?


The above description as to my state of mind is also an explanation as to my lack of writing here. Same sequence of events, more or less.

Despite all the poor health, unfocused minds, and general clutter (mental and physical), the dogs went to the vet today and got a clean bill of health. Actually Zeus does have a small heart murmur, but nothing to be concerned about. The vet, a very personable and thorough one, praised their good health and overall cleanliness.

One novelty was that the scope he used to look into their ears projected onto a monitor in the room so I could see the ear canals of my dogs. Zephyr had a little wax in one of her ears, which looked like moss growing on the side of a cave. The three other ear canals look spotless. Too bad they don't have that gizmo at my doctor. I would love to see inside my ear.

I guess I should go and at least pretend to be productive.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Yes, I am discombobulated.

I am looking for someone who is combobulated so I know what I should be aiming for as I try to get my act together.